Bills defensive line can make Ben Roethlisberger uncomfortable even without recording a sack


Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver (91) and Vernon Butler (94) during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. The Bills recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes )

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane say time and time again games are won and lost up front, everything starts up front and this game between the Bills and Steelers in the season opener is an interesting matchup in the trenches between Buffalo’s defensive line and Pittsburgh’s offensive line.

The Bills put a huge emphasis this offseason on improving their pass rush and building depth there. That’s why they can use the “by committee” approach and have the rotation they do.

On the flip side, the Steelers offensive line is inexperienced and young as they’re starting two rookies with Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle and Kendrick Green at center. And while this is definitely music to the Bills defensive linemen’s ears and I think they should still be able to get pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, it might not appear on the stat sheet as much as they want it to.

That’s because of how quickly he gets the ball out. He’s one of the best in the NFL at it.

“I know last season they were the best team in the league as far as getting the ball out and really neutralizing your defensive line by how quickly they get the ball out,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said.

Roethlisberger led the league with 2.3 seconds average time to throw in 2020 according to Next Gen Stats.

“So we’ve gotta deal with that and try to get our hands up and try to get some batted balls but this is one of those games where sometimes your most effective pass rush is just being able to harass the quarterback. You might not get him on the ground because of how quickly they get it out and their style of passing game but if we can affect him with our presence that may be as good as a sack sometimes,” Frazier explained.

“From our side of the ball we’re attacking every single play. You never know the play he’s gonna pump it and he’s gonna hold it,” Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said.

And even if they can’t get the sack, there are other ways to make Roethlisberger uncomfortable.

“We even had a study done about the quarterback’s efficiency ratings after they’ve been hit whether it was a sack or not, you know what happens the next time they throw a ball after they’ve been hit, any quarterback in the league and you’ll see a huge drop in efficiency,” Phillips explained.

And Phillips will have to be one of the guys to step up even more come Sunday because Star Lotulelei has already been ruled out with a calf injury. Even though the Bills are used to playing without him after Lotulelei opted out of the 2020 season, it’s still a blow to the Bills defense that will cause others to fill the void.

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